June 2019 News Reports

 

 

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Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative June 2019 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors’ words except for subheads and occasional “Editor’s notes” such as this. 

June 3

Swamp Watch

ny times logoelaine chao oNew York Times, A ‘Bridge’ to China, and Her Family’s Business, in the Trump Cabinet, Michael Forsythe, Eric Lipton, Keith Bradsher and Sui-Lee Wee, June 3, 2019 (print ed.). Elaine Chao, right, the transportation secretary, has repeatedly used her connections in China to boost the profile of her family’s shipping company. Her proximity to Foremost Group has raised ethics questions, as the firm benefits from policies in China that are roiling the White House.

In China, the Chaos are no ordinary family. They run an American shipping company with deep ties to the economic and political elite in China, where most of the company’s business is centered.

The email arrived in Washington before dawn. An official at the American Embassy in Beijing was urgently seeking advice from the State Department about transportation dept logoan “ethics question.”

Ms. Chao’s office had made a series of unorthodox requests related to her first scheduled visit to China as a Trump cabinet member, according to people with knowledge of the email. Among them: asking federal officials to help coordinate travel arrangements for at least one family member and include relatives china flag Smallin meetings with government officials.

The trip was abruptly canceled by Ms. Chao after the ethics question was referred to officials in the State and Transportation Departments and, separately, after The New York Times and others made inquiries about her itinerary and companions.

ny times logogeorge h w bush mitch mcconnell 1991 elaine chaoNew York Times, The Chao family has deep ties to the world’s two largest economies. Here are five takeaways, Michael Forsythe and Eric Lipton, June 3, 2019 (print ed.). The family of Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary and wife of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader (shown together in a 1991 photo with President George H. W. Bush), has high-level political connections not only in the United States but also in China. That gives the family unusual status in the world’s two largest economies.

james chao elaine chao fatherThrough interviews, industry filings and government documents from both countries, The New York Times found that the Chaos, and by extension Mr. McConnell, prospered as the family’s shipping company developed deeper business ties in China.

Along the way, one of the company’s boosters was Ms. Chao, who now oversees efforts to promote America’s own maritime industry, which is in steep decline as China’s shipping sector rises in global dominance. Here are five takeaways.

china flag SmallJames S.C. Chao, 91,above left, Ms. Chao’s father, studied navigation at a university in Shanghai before fleeing the mainland ahead of the Communist takeover in 1949. His schoolmate for a time was Jiang Zemin, who would become China’s president.

Perception Management

william barr cbs jan crawford 60 minutes may 31 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What was William Barr’s fleece vest trying to tell us? Monica Hesse,June 3, 2019 (print ed.). He could have worn a suit for his TV interview. But the attorney general picked a folksier vibe for floating conspiracy theories.

William Barr showed up to his CBS This Morning interview looking like he was prepared to discuss not the investigation into possible Russian coordination with the 2016 Trump campaign but rather how to bait a fishing hook. The attorney general was working a distinctly “River Runs Through It” cosplay vibe: a tan half-zipped fleece vest over a checked button-down shirt, and in the background, a roaring fire.

cub scout webelos badgeTo be fair, the interview, which aired Friday, did take place in Alaska, where Barr was traveling. But there are business suits available in Alaska; Barr had worn one earlier on the trip, during a meeting about rural law enforcement issues. his decision to skip a suit as he held forth on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation seemed like an attempt to communicate a message.

And that message was: I am a man of the people, and I am here to speak truths and help you earn a [Cub Scout] Webelos badge.

Trump UnPlugged

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, in Britain for a state visit, criticizes London mayor, Toluse Olorunnipa, William Booth and Anne Gearan​, June 3, 2019. Trump is visiting Queen Elizabeth II as part of three days of pomp and circumstance. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has objected to plans to fete Trump, who responded on Twitter by criticizing Khan’s record and his height.

Even before President Trump arrived in London on Monday for three days of planned pomp and circumstance, his state visit had already become dominated by insults and political intrigue.

Hours before he was scheduled to visit Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, the president launched a Twitter attack against London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has publicly objected to the plan to fete Trump with a ceremonial state visit. Trump responded by criticizing Khan’s record as mayor and attacking him over his height.

“@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly ‘nasty’ to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me,” Trump wrote on Twitter as Air Force One was about to land in Britain. “Kahn [sic] reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump urges customers to drop AT&T to punish CNN over its coverage of him, Taylor Telford​, June 3, 2019. The president has repeatedly taken aim at the network and its top on-air personalities. President Trump raised a familiar complaint — “unfair” coverage by CNN — in a pair of Monday morning tweets. But this time he called on supporters to boycott the cable news network’s corporate parent, AT&T, to drive the point home.

“I believe that if people stoped [sic] using or subscribing to AT&T, they would be forced to make big changes at CNN, which is dying in the ratings anyway,” Trump tweeted. “It is so unfair with such bad, Fake News!”

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Dear Robert Mueller: Your report can’t speak for itself, E.J. Dionne Jr., June 3, 2019.  I was struck by a line in a Politico article about your public statement last week: “Mueller all but said Congress’ only recourse to hold Trump accountable is impeachment.”

I’m sorry, Mr. Mueller. “All but said” is not good enough. Do you say it, or do you not?

You are dealing here with a president happy to tear the law and the truth — and, for that matter, you — to pieces. Do you feel no responsibility to set the record straight when Trump distorts it day after day? You claim that, under the rules, it would have been wrong for you to say Trump broke the law. But that’s not what your boss, the attorney general, says.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s downward spiral costs him yet another key White House adviser, Bill Palmer, June 3, 2019. For the second time in as many days, Trump has lost yet another key White House adviser at an inopportune time.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, Trump tweeted that his prized White House attorney Emmet Flood was resigning as of June 14th. This was shocking, considering that Flood is one of the foremost experts at invoking executive privilege, at a time when Trump’s executive privilege battles with Congress are heating up. Flood is bailing just as the thing he was brought in to handle is unfolding. That means something went very wrong between Trump and Flood behind the scenes.

But now it turns out Flood isn’t the only one running for the hills. Last night Donald Trump posted this tweet: “Kevin Hassett, who has done such a great job for me and the Administration, will be leaving shortly. His very talented replacement will be named as soon as I get back to the U.S. I want to thank Kevin for all he has done – he is a true friend!”

You may not be familiar with Kevin Hassett, but he’s Donald Trump’s handpicked Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Considering the timing, it’s not difficult to parse that his departure is likely related to Trump’s decision this week to abruptly roll out disastrous tariffs on Mexican goods as part of his ongoing war on immigration. Trump just keeps losing key people at an accelerating rate. The worse his downward spiral gets, the more people are bailing on him.

washington post logoWashington Post, A whistleblower says there’s a secret wait list for care at Veterans Affairs. The department says that’s not true, Joe Davidson​, June 3, 2019. The department’s press secretary said the list “has nothing to do with waits for medical treatment and tracks routine actions, such as facility and provider transfer requests.”

Jereme P. Whiteman rose quickly through the Department of Veterans Affairs, reaching the top grade on the main employee classification scale in only seven years.

But his future within VA appears stymied. He’s become a rebel within the department’s establishment — a whistleblower who says the scandals that shamed the department during the Obama administration haven’t stopped.

Whiteman, VA’s national director of clinic practice management and a former Marine, has accused the department under President Trump of having “a secret VA wait list” for veterans seeking health care.

It’s starkly reminiscent of the tsunami-level scandal that broke in 2014 over the coverup of long patient wait times. That coverup included falsifying records to indicate the wait for medical service was shorter than it really was. Congress went ballistic, and the controversy drove then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, a former Army general and chief of staff, from office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon tells White House to keep politics away from the military, Alex Horton, June 3, 2019. The request from the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, came amid backlash over an administration request to hide the USS John S. McCain warship during President Trump’s visit to Japan last month.  Shanahan and Navy officials have faced intense scrutiny over a White House request to hide the USS John S. McCain warship during President Trump’s visit to Japan last month — a moment, among others, some defense officials and analysts have said is a sign of decay in the civilian-military relationship, which has been traditionally immune to partisan rancor.

Amid the backlash, Shanahan directed his chief of staff to tell the White House not to put the military in political situations, Shanahan’s spokesman, Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, told The Washington Post.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Liberals go after Biden, trying to blunt his candidacy and a recent centrist surge among Democrats, Sean Sullivan, June 3, 2019. The former vice president’s bernie sanders buttonstanding hasn’t ebbed as some liberals hoped, so he and other moderates are now targeted in a fight for Democratic Party control.

Some of the most scathing, if veiled, admonitions came Sunday from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), shown at right in a 2016 campaign button, who repeatedly condemned “middle ground” policy ideas and appeared to criticize Biden for not attending a Democratic gathering where Sanders and 13 other White House.

Exclusive On Pompeo’s Jewish Briefing

mike pompeo state dept photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Pompeo delivers unvarnished view of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, John Hudson and Loveday Morris, June 3, 2019. “I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (shown above in a file photo) said in an audio recording of a private meeting with Jewish leaders obtained by The Post, adding that the proposal “may be rejected.”

The remarks are the most unvarnished comments to date from a U.S. official about President Trump’s “deal of the century,” an effort to resolve the intractable Israeli-Palestinian dispute he has entrusted to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former lawyer Jason Greenblatt.

More On Trade Wars

washington post logoWashington Post, Mexican official warns tariffs could cause dire consequences, Kevin Sieff, June 3, 2019. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said officials hope to persuade the White House to not follow through with the tariffs, but also said the threat would have no impact on Mexico’s immigration policy. Marcelo Ebrard, who spoke at a news conference in Washington, said the threat would have no impact on Mexico’s immigration policy.

china flag SmallWashington Post, China warns students about ‘risks’ of going to U.S., a twist in trade war, Anna Fifield, June 3, 2019. China warned students on Monday to think about the “risks” associated with attending college in the United States, an apparent sign that the authorities in Beijing are expanding the boundaries of the trade war to include educational exchanges.

The warning comes as the Chinese government looks for ways to retaliate against the Trump administration for the tariffs it has imposed on $250 billion worth of goods from China, including fish and tungsten.

Global Human Rights

indicter logo sloganThe Indicter Magazine: Monthly review on geopolitical & human rights issues, Trump Found His Roy Cohn In Deep State Fixer Bill Barr, Edited by Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, founder and editor of The Indicter Magazine, with article by Andrew Kreig (Editorial Board member and associate editor at The Indicter Magazine, published in Stockholm, Sweden), June 3, 2019 (originally published by Justice Integrity Project).

In protecting President Trump, Attorney General William Barr is meeting the president’s demand for a loyal legal fixer in the radical right mold of the canny, connected and immoral Roy Cohn. That is the not-so-hidden backstory of the radical gutting of American constitutional government now underway to expand and cover up Team Trump’s corruption..

June 2.

GOP Census / Vote Rigging?

thomas hofeller c span Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court can’t ignore damning new evidence on Trump’s census manipulation, Editorial Board, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). Revelations offer another reason for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 count. There was already little doubt that the Trump administration acted in bad faith when it moved to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

us census bureauFor those still  convinced — including Supreme Court justices resistant to examining the administration’s nakedly partisan motivations — the revelation of new evidence Thursday made such willful blindness even less tenable. The court cannot let the Trump administration get away with manipulating the census in a barely disguised partisan power play.

Opponents of the citizenship question provided in federal court on Thursday documents elaborating on the partisan inspirations for the change. According to the New York Times, the daughter of Thomas B. Hofeller (shown above), a recently deceased Republican gerrymandering expert, discovered files on her late father’s hard drives suggesting that GOP operatives hoped to do more than simply depress the census count. They also wanted to give themselves an edge in legislative line-drawing.

Mr. Hofeller had concluded in 2015 that switching the way states distribute political representation — basing it on where eligible voters are, rather than on total population, whether voting-eligible or not — would benefit Republicans. Many Hispanics and their children would be excluded from consideration as legislative lines were drawn. Democratic districts would have to expand in order to encompass the same number of people. The result would be districts that skewed less Democratic. But Mr. Hofeller concluded that Republicans would need better data on the voting-age population — from, say, the census — in order to make the switch.

It is unclear whether the Supreme Court would consider evidence submitted in federal district court at this late stage in its pending ruling on the move to add the citizenship question. Ideally, it should not matter much; the justices were already offered a crystal-clear picture of an administration searching for excuses to meddle with the census for partisan ends, over the concerted objections of government experts about what the shift would do to the accuracy of the count.

Related story: New York Times, Thomas Hofeller, Republican Master of Political Maps, Dies at 75, Michael Wines, Aug. 21, 2018. Thomas B. Hofeller, a political consultant whose mastery of redistricting strategy helped propel the Republican Party from underdog to the dominant force in state legislatures and the House of Representatives, died on Thursday at his home in Raleigh, N.C.

Warren Fights Trump Immunity

Medium via OpEdNews, Opinion: No President Is Above the Law, Elizabeth Warren (right, Democratic senator from Massachusetts, 2020 presidential candidate and former Harvard Law elizabeth warren cfpbSchool professor), June 2, 2019. When Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released on April 18, I sat down and read it. All 448 pages of it. I started reading it that afternoon, and I read all through the night and into the next morning. And when I got to page 448, three things were clear to me.

First, a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help candidate Donald Trump get elected. Second, candidate Donald Trump welcomed that help. Third, when the federal government tried to investigate, now-President Donald Trump did everything he could to delay, distract, and otherwise obstruct that investigation.

democratic donkey logoThat’s a crime. If Donald Trump were anyone other than the President of the United States right now, he would be in handcuffs and indicted. Robert Mueller said as much in his report, and he said it again on Wednesday.

“The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.”

djt gage skidmoreMueller’s statement made clear what those of us who have read his report already knew: He’s referring President Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore portrait) for impeachment, and it’s up to Congress to act.

That’s why I came out in favor of impeachment after reading all 448 pages of Mueller’s report. This is not about politics — it’s our constitutional duty as members of Congress. It’s a matter of principle.

But impeachment isn’t supposed to be the only way that a President can be held accountable for committing a crime. That’s why I’ve got a plan to make sure that no President is above the law.

Congress should make it clear that Presidents can be indicted for criminal activity, including obstruction of justice. And when I’m President, I’ll appoint Justice Department officials who will reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability. Donald Trump believes that he can violate the law, and he believes that the role of the Department of Justice is to help him get away with it. That’s not how our country is supposed to work.

Yes, Congress has a constitutional obligation to impeach the President when he violates the law. But lawyers for previous presidents have used this constitutional duty to argue that the only way the President can be held accountable for criminal behavior is through impeachment.

This argument hasn’t always been accepted by the federal government, and it’s been criticized by scores of constitutional experts, but it’s still the official policy of the Department of Justice.

Black U.S.Voters Support Biden

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Why do black voters support Biden? They just want to beat Trump, Theodore R. Johnson (senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy). Joe Biden has a past that threatens his prospects with black voters — from his long-ago stance against busing to his mismanagement of Anita Hill’s testimony about Clarence Thomas to his onetime support of the 1994 crime bill. Now he’s running for president in a crowded 2020 Democratic field that includes three black candidates, all of whom will need strong African American support to secure the party nomination.

joe biden oSo far, though, polling shows Biden with a dominant share of black Democrats’ support. An average of two Quinnipiac polls of Democratic-leaning voters, one taken right after Biden, right, declared his candidacy and another released in late May, found him well ahead of the other candidates, with 46 percent among African Americans nationally. Compare that with an average of 10 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 7 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and 11 percent for the three black candidates combined.

Biden certainly owes some of this early success to his tenure as Barack Obama’s vice president. But a fuller explanation has to do with the politics of pragmatism. When it comes to presidential races, black voters, perhaps more than any other demographic, vote not for what might be gained but according to what might be lost.

None of this reflects poorly on other candidates’ appeals to black voters. (For instance, Warren’s policy-heavy pitch tackling racial disparities in housing, health care and education is starting to show positive results, especially with black female voters, as recently reported by the Associated Press.) And there’s no guarantee that Biden will hold his advantage once the debates and primaries begin.

Mass Murder Aftermathvirginia beach victims

washington post logoWashington Post, After mass shooting, Virginia Beach mourns and searches for answers, Laura Vozzella, Ian Shapira, Justin Jouvenal and Gregory S. Schneider, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). Officials could offer no clear motive or explanation for what Police Chief James A. Cervera called a “horrific event of unbelievable proportion.” Authorities identified DeWayne Craddock as the shooter who killed 12 people, and said the guns he used had been legally purchased.

washington post logoWashington Post, Neighbors describe shooter as a reserved person who tended to keep to himself, Michael E. Miller, Lynh Bui and Julie Zauzmer, June 2, dewayne craddock headshot2019 (print ed.). Investigators on Saturday combed through DeWayne Craddock’s life and interviewed city employees to try to explain why the 40-year-old (shown right) so violently lashed out, killing 12 people.

washington post logoWashington Post, Virginia GOP blocked bill to ban sales of large-capacity magazines, Robert McCartney, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). Each year, Democrats propose multiple gun-control measures. Each year, Republican legislators vote them down.

Trump Visits Britain On Monday

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Britain is in crisis. So why is President Trump coming to visit? Anne Applebaum, une 2, 2019 (print ed.). Hint: It’s all about the pictures. Britain is in united kingdom flagthe grip of an unprecedented political meltdown, a crisis on a scale that was unthinkable even six months ago.

The prime minister has resigned and is leaving office within days. Support for the two historic political parties, Labour and Conservative, is at an all-time low. In hastily planned European Parliament elections last week, the brand new Brexit Party came in first, while two anti-Brexit parties, the tiny Liberal Democrats and the even tinier Greens, came in second and fourth. The ruling Tory party finished a distant fifth.

Global Power, Wealth

ny times logouae embassy sealNew York Times, The Most Powerful Arab Ruler Isn’t M.B.S. It’s M.B.Z., David D. Kirkpatrick, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, left, grew the mohammed bin zayedpower of the United Arab Emirates by following America’s lead. He now has an increasingly militaristic agenda, and his legendary Washington influence appears to be extending to President Trump.

Mueller Probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Mueller went out like a lamb when the country needed a lion, David Ignatius, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). He was so deferential robert mueller full face fileWednesday that, in practical terms, he ceded the ground to President Trump and his apologists.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Emmet Flood, White House lawyer brought on to help navigate Russia investigation, to depart June 14, Trump says, Matt Zapotosky, June 1, 2019. Flood’s departure had been expected after Mueller concluded his investigation in March, as his main role was helping manage the White House’s responses to Mueller’s work. But even after the inquiry concluded, Flood had played a key role in decisions about how the White House handled requests from Congress for investigation-related documents.

emmet flood djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s White House lawyer Emmet Flood is resigning at the most suspicious time possible, Bill Palmer, June 1, 2019. This afternoon, even as his Meghan Markle and USS John McCain scandals were exploding around him, Donald Trump announced out of nowhere on Twitter this afternoon that his prized White House lawyer Emmet Flood is resigning.

Considering Flood’s expertise and the timing, suffice it to say that something suspicious is afoot.

bill palmer report logo headerSome news outlets are framing this as Flood (shown above at right with Trump in separate file photos) resigning because he was brought in to protect Trump during the Mueller investigation, which is now over.

But that’s not the correct story. Flood is an expert at defending a president’s use of executive privilege – something that Flood did for Bill Clinton decades ago. Now that the Mueller probe is over and the House probes are ramping up, Trump is about to get knee deep into legal battles over whether he can use executive privilege to prevent people like Don McGahn and Hope Hicks from testifying before Congress. There has to be more to this story.

Crisis Monday For Trump On Court Defiance?

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: If the administration defied a court order, all bets are off, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 2, 2019. Criminal prosecution exacts punishment; impeachment upholds the Constitution and prevents further assaults on it. Many Americans, but far from a majority, think President Trump has committed impeachable acts but are wary of impeaching without hope of removal. However, if there is an indication that severe damage to the Constitution will occur unless Trump is removed, the House must act, and then engage public opinion to pressure the Senate.

emmet sullivan 2012On Friday, we might have reached that breaking point. On Friday, we might have reached that breaking point. The Post reports: “Federal prosecutors on Friday declined to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December 2016, despite a judge’s order.” The Justice Department argued that the documents need not be released because “it did not rely on such recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or determine a recommendation for his sentencing.” Moreover, “Prosecutors also failed to release an unredacted version of portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn that the judge had ordered be made public.”

Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tells me, “Even if the district court’s order to release the Flynn-Kislyak transcripts goes further than justified by the sentencing matter before the court, I would’ve thought that, in a government of laws, the only way to avoid compliance is to take an appeal to a higher court.”

Boeing Crash Probe

ny times logoboeing logoNew York Times, Investigation: Boeing Built Deadly Assumptions Into 737 Max, Blind to a Late Design Change, June 2, 2019. Jack Nicas, Natalie Kitroeff, David Gelles and James Glanz,  A system that doomed two flights was expected to engage only rarely and originally used two sensors. Critical decisions were based on those factors even when they no longer applied, employees said.

U.S. Political Musical Parody

Billboard, Randy Rainbow Channels Ariana Grande, Begs Nancy Pelosi to Impeach Trump in New Parody Video: Watch,

washington post logoWashington Post Magazine, Randy Rainbow’s Witty World, Margaret Engel, Photos by Marvin Joseph, May 28, 2019 (for print publication June 2). How a musical theater nerd reinvented political satire for the YouTube age.

In a topsy-turvy era, is it surprising that a political commentator should dress in sequins, feather boas and pink cat-eye glasses? Because that’s Randy Rainbow (yes, it’s his given name). In real life, the 37-year-old leads a solitary existence in an orderly apartment adorned with oversize photographs of Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. But millions share his splashy, over-the-top digital life: Since 2016, Rainbow, a Broadway hopeful who fled from cattle-call auditions, has found his own spotlight through the Internet, emerging as a YouTube sensation who dispenses musical-comedy salve for a divided nation.

Hundreds of thousands watch the short videos he produces every 10 days or so, featuring show tunes and pop songs he has refashioned with biting new lyrics. These DIY productions are funny and oh-so-topical and include clever video manipulation of news footage to create sassy mock interviews with prominent political players — mostly of the Trumpian variety — topped off with costumes ordered online.

Billboard, Randy Rainbow Channels Ariana Grande, Begs Nancy Pelosi to Impeach Trump in New Parody Video: Watch, Stephen Daw, May 30, 2019 (435 min. video). On Tuesday (May 28), Rainbow released his latest video titled “Just Impeach Him,” a parody of Ariana Grande’s Sweetener single “Breathin.”

At the video’s outset, Rainbow does a faux interview with the president following his decision to storm out of a meeting with Democrats last week. When he continues to sniffle and inhale sharply, Rainbow tells the president to “just keep wheezing, seething, panting, screaming” amid the cries for impeachment.

As the video continues, Rainbow continuously changes costumes, paying homage to Grande. He transitions into another interview, this time with Pelosi, where he gives her some sage advice about what to do regarding the president’s misconduct: “Impeach him, impeach him, impeach him, impeach him,” he sings. “You know it’s what they want/ Just impeach him.”

More U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Insurgent Democrats, Many of Them Women, Worry a New Party Policy Will Block Them, Jennifer Steinhauer, June 2, 2019. Democratic primary challengers are often female, young and nonwhite. Many fear a recent move by House Democratic leaders will prevent them from being elected.

A move by House Democratic leaders to thwart party members from mounting primary challenges to incumbents, even in safe Democratic districts, could have the unintended consequence of arresting the party’s shift toward a more female and racially diverse caucus, one of its most striking achievements of the last election.

This past week, a Democratic political consultant with longstanding ties to the party’s campaign committees quit a senior-partner position at the firm Deliver Strategies after it, like most dominant campaign outfits, agreed to comply with a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee policy barring it from conducting business with a primary opponent of a sitting Democrat.

The D.C.C.C. is ostensibly out to protect sitting Democrats from having to worry about primaries, and instead focus their energy and money on fighting off Republicans. Some female and minority candidates did well in open primaries and beat Republican incumbents last year, even in majority-white districts. They will benefit from the new policy, even as many of them are critical of it.

Alternet via Raw Story,  Woman who ran against Matt Gaetz in 2016 charged with battery after allegedly throwing a milkshake at him, Elizabeth Preza, June 2, 2019. Taking a cue from protestors in the UK, a 35-year-old woman in Pensacola, FL was arrested on Saturday after allegedly throwing a milkshake at Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

In video of the incident. Gaetz can be seen exiting a town hall even at Brew Ha Ha in Florida when he appears to be struck by what police are saying was a milkshake.

matt gaetz o CustomThe move follows similar incidents in the UK; last month, Brexit leader Nigel Farage was struck by a banana and salted caramel milkshake in Newcastle. Following the attack, Farage refused to get off a campaign bus in Rochester when protester dressed in black carried milkshakes to the event.

“There are a couple of guys… with milkshakes, they were going to throw them over him. But the police are there, we’ve spotted them and now Nigel isn’t getting off the bus,” Farage’s bus driver Michael Botton told Kent Live.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., police arrested 35-year-old Amanda Leigh Kondrat’yev and charged her with battery. As weartv.com reports, Kondrat’yev ran against Gaetz, right, in 2016 for the congressional seat.

On Twitter, Gaetz responded to the attack, claiming it “takes more than a drink to slow down our great team.” Although, for what it’s worth, you can clearly see the congressman “slow down” after being hit with a milkshake as he tries to identify the perpetrator — apparently with success.

June 1

Barr Defies Flynn Judge

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite court order, prosecutors don’t release transcripts of Flynn, Russian ambassador, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, June 1, 2019. (print ed.)  The Justice Department also declined to give an unredacted version of parts of the Mueller report related to Michael Flynn. Federal prosecutors on Friday declined to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn (shown below left in a file photo) and Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December 2016, despite a judge’s order.

michael flynn state department CustomIn a court filing Friday, the Justice Department wrote that it did not rely on such recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or determine a recommendation for his sentencing.

Prosecutors also failed to release an unredacted version of portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn that the judge had ordered be made public.

Flynn, who served briefly as President Trump’s first national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and he cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. He is awaiting sentencing.

emmet sullivan 2012The government’s unusual response came after U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, right,  in Washington ordered earlier in May that the Justice Department make public various materials related to the case, including transcripts of any audio recordings of Flynn, such as his conversations with Russian officials.

Prosecutors provided one item that Sullivan ordered be released: a transcript of a voice mail left by an attorney for Trump, much of which had already appeared in Mueller’s report. It is unclear how the judge will react to the government’s noncompliance with other elements of his order. Late last year, Sullivan postponed Flynn’s sentencing after angrily lambasting the former national security adviser for his actions, saying, “Arguably, you sold your country out.”

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump’s Michael Flynn scandal just took an even uglier turn, Bill Palmer, June 1, 2019.  Yesterday, William Barr and his DOJ informed Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan that they were refusing his order to turn over transcripts of the phone calls between Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador. Even as we wait for the judge to dish out what are likely to be very harsh contempt of court penalties, Donald Trump’s Flynn scandal just took another ugly turn.

New documents confirm what’s long been suspected about Michael Flynn: he was on the take from numerous foreign governments, for dollar amounts big and small, while he bill palmer report logo headerwas a senior adviser to Donald Trump. Based on the documents posted last night by Politico, Flynn took a half a million dollars from the government of Turkey during the election – and at one point Turkey complained to Flynn that Donald Trump hadn’t publicly taken enough of a pro-Turkey stance.

michael flynn djtAgain, this was while Donald Trump was running for president, and while Michael Flynn was one of his most trusted campaign advisers. If Turkey was being so blatant as to complain to Flynn in writing that Trump wasn’t playing his part, are we really supposed to believe that Trump wasn’t in on it? In fact this may paint a new light on another Flynn-related development from yesterday.

William Barr and his DOJ were willing to turn over a transcript of a Michael Flynn voicemail yesterday, even though it severely incriminated Donald Trump’s former attorney John Dowd. It’s clear that Barr is willing to throw Trump’s people under the bus as needed. But Barr refused to turn over transcripts of Flynn’s transition period phone calls with Russia, risking contempt of court in the process. This suggests that Flynn’s Russia phone calls directly incriminate Trump.

More On Mueller Probe

 washington post logoWashington Post, Emmet Flood, White House lawyer brought on to help navigate Russia investigation, to depart June 14, Trump says, Matt Zapotosky, June 1, 2019. Flood’s departure had been expected after Mueller concluded his investigation in March, as his main role was helping manage the White House’s responses to Mueller’s work. But even after the inquiry concluded, Flood had played a key role in decisions about how the White House handled requests from Congress for investigation-related documents.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s White House lawyer Emmet Flood is resigning at the most suspicious time possible, Bill Palmer, June 1, 2019. This afternoon, even as his Meghan Markle and USS John McCain scandals were exploding around him, Donald Trump announced out of nowhere on Twitter this afternoon that his prized White House lawyer Emmet Flood is resigning. Considering Flood’s expertise and the timing, suffice it to say that something suspicious is afoot.

bill palmer report logo headerSome news outlets are framing this as Flood resigning because he was brought in to protect Trump during the Mueller investigation, which is now over. But that’s not the correct story. Flood is an expert at defending a president’s use of executive privilege – something that Flood did for Bill Clinton decades ago. Now that the Mueller probe is over and the House probes are ramping up, Trump is about to get knee deep into legal battles over whether he can use executive privilege to prevent people like Don McGahn and Hope Hicks from testifying before Congress.

There has to be more to this story.

U.S. Mass Shootings

washington post logoWashington Post, Police identify gunman, victims in Va. Beach mass shooting, Jim Morrison, Peter Hermann and Justin Jouvenal, June 1, 2019. Gunman and nearly all of the 12 slain were city workers, authorities say,

• Authorities said DeWayne Craddock, 40, was responsible for the shooting Friday, which also injured several others.
• The attacker was killed after a gun battle with police through the hallways of the public works building, authorities said.

dewayne craddock headshotThe man who shot and killed 12 people at a government building Friday was identified as a 15-year employee of the city Department of Public Works and all but one of his victims were city employees, authorities announced Saturday.

DeWayne Craddock, right, of Virginia Beach, was an engineer who served as a project manager and contact for a number of utility projects, according to posts on the Virginia Beach web site.

Authorities solemnly read the names of each of the victims at the outset of a press conference on Saturday morning, saying all worked for the Department of Public Works and the Department of Public Utilities, except for one contractor. The gunman “fired indiscriminately” with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun on several floors of the building, one of many in the complex.

More On Justice Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrats tell intelligence chiefs they must help monitor Barr’s review of Russia probe, Karoun Demirjian, June 1, 2019. (print ed.). The House Intelligence Committee chairman sent letters to the heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security.

mark warnerIn a separate letter, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), right, asked the spy chiefs to “immediately” inform the panel “if you see signs” that Barr’s inquiry risks compromising intelligence-gathering sources and methods, affecting relationships with foreign liaisons, or adversely impacting the intelligence community’s workforce.

He also asked that they notify the panel of any “selective declassification” that appeared politically motivated.Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, demanding in-person briefings to discuss what materials the attorney general has sought thus far.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department is preparing antitrust investigation of Google, Tony Romm​, June 1, 2019. (print ed.) The move marks a new chapter in the tech giant’s war with regulators around the world who contend the company is too large and threatens rivals and consumers. The Justice Department has taken early steps toward opening a federal antitrust investigation into Google, according to three people familiar with the matter, marking a new chapter in the tech giant’s troubles with regulators around the world who contend the company is too large and threatens rivals and consumers.

google logo customThe move thrusts Google back under the regulatory microscope in the United States roughly six years after another federal agency probed the search and advertising behemoth on grounds that its business practices threatened competitors — though the government spared the company from major punishment at the time.

[Inside the private Justice Department meeting that could lead to new investigations of Facebook, Google and other tech giants]

The exact focus of the Justice Department’s investigation is unclear. The department began work on the matter after brokering an agreement with the government’s other antitrust agency, the Federal Trade Commission, to take the lead on antitrust oversight of Google, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are confidential.

DHS Agents To Guatemala

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration to send DHS agents, investigators to Guatemala-Mexico border, Nick Miroff and Kevin Sieff, June 1, 2019. (print ed.) Dozens of Homeland Security agents and investigators will deploy to Guatemala as part of the Trump administration’s desperate attempt to slow unauthorized migration to the United States from Central America, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the plans.

us dhs big eagle logo4The Department of Homeland Security personnel will work as “advisers” to Guatemala’s national police and migration authorities, and they will aim to disrupt and interdict human smuggling operations, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe a plan that has not been made public. U.S. authorities hope that the effort will cut off popular routes to the United States and deter migrants from beginning their journeys north through Mexico.

Plans call for at least several dozen DHS agents and investigators, and one DHS official briefed on the plans said about 80 U.S. law enforcement personnel will deploy as part of the mission. Another DHS official said Immigration and Customs Enforcement will send 18 Homeland Security Investigations agents and intelligence analysts, along with six agents from the Enforcement and Removal Operations division.

While the scale of the deployment and the location — the Guatemala-Mexico border — would be unusual, there are precedents for U.S. law enforcement presence in Central America. Armed Drug Enforcement Administration agents conduct operations in the region, and CBP advisers work with Mexican officials to improve immigration screening procedures and to upgrade technology.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Doctor Who Stayed Behind to Save Babies in His Long-Suffering Homeland, Dionne Searcey; Photos by Ashley Gilbertson, June 1, 2019. In the Central African Republic, which ranks next to last in the world on quality of life indicators, a peace accord allows a pediatrician and his trainees to build a future.

Nearly seven years ago, Muslim rebels fed up with a lack of government services in rural areas — basics like schools, roads and hospitals — invaded the capital and clashed with Christian militias that formed to beat them back in fighting that slid toward genocide, the United Nations said at the time. Armed groups have been battling over turf ever since in this mineral-rich nation, which has suffered regular upheavals since independence from France in 1960.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Is Netanyahu Toast? Ronen Bergman, June 1, 2019. Benjamin Netanyahu has rebounded from so many political defeats that he is called a magician. benjamin netanyahu frownThis time, the Israeli prime minister, right, may not have another rabbit in his hat. On Thursday, the day Parliament dissolved, setting in motion a new election, “the countdown to the end of the Netanyahu era began,” the veteran political columnist Yossi Verter wrote in the liberal newspaper Haaretz.

Amit Segal, the chief political analyst of Israel’s Channel 12 News, said that the dissolution of Parliament and the new election “created a real danger that he will not be able to escape prosecution.”

  

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